Time 100 Next Honorees Talk Inspiring Future Generations

Jharrel Jerome and Korey Wise - Getty - H 2019
Craig Barritt/Getty Images

Lili Reinhart, Aly Raisman, Jharrel Jerome and Awkwafina were among those recognized by the magazine.

Gone are the days when Time magazine only released one Time 100 issue each year. On Nov. 13, the publication announced its first annual Time 100 Next, shining a light on rising stars in their respective fields — from entertainment to politics to science and activism. Among the honorees in the first Time 100 Next list were an astrophysicist, a man who's 3D-printing rockets, activists with passion points ranging from the environment to LGBTQ rights, and actors and musicians making waves in their industries. 

"This is just really validating to be recognized by such a famous institution like Time," Ryan O'Connell, actor, comedian and an LQBTQ and disability advocate, told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet at the event celebrating the honorees Nov. 14. O'Connell's Netflix series Special, based on his memoir about finding his identity as a gay man with mild cerebral palsy, was nominated for four Emmys in 2019. "[This recognition is] very much like, ‘See where I am now, bitch,'" he added, laughing, admitting he's not above being petty. 

O'Connell said he hopes to continue making meaningful work and pushing the envelope. 

"We're building a new world, and it's going to be chic and handicap accessible," he said, which was immediately followed by applause and "woooos" that echoed throughout the event space on the fourth floor of Pier 17 in New York City.

YouTubers like Emma Chamberlain and Liza Koshy were also honorees, constantly looking for ways to use their platforms to do some good. For Koshy, that's going out there and getting young people excited about voting — something she didn't feel at 18. 

"Whatever party you vote for, just vote at all. You have a voice and wanting to make sure that everybody is heard and that they know they can be heard, that’s the mission right now," she told THR. "[I want to] help us move forward as a whole, as a society, without any body image issues or anything that I had growing up."

It took Lili Reinhart (Riverdale and Hustlers) and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman some time to grasp the honor of being named to Time's new list.

"I was very like, 'Holy crap, that’s really cool,'" Reinhart told THR about receiving the email on the set of Riverdale, where she stars as Betty Cooper. "Then, it kind of took a little while and telling some people for me to realize how big of an honor that was." 

Reinhart brought her mom as her date, whom she gushed about, saying she has been an incredibly positive figure in the 23-year-old's life because she's a genuinely kind human being, even in the most stressful situations. 

"I don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet, but it’s very special," Raisman told THR. She also attended the Time 100 event in 2018 with then-honoree Rachael Denhollander. "I’m just so appreciative for all the support I’ve gotten." 

For Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us), it's a dream come true being among all of the inspirational people who were honored Thursday night. He wants to take that recognition back to his neighborhood. 

"Bring it back to the people who are just like me, trying to make it, and [who] feel very different and feel like we can't," Jerome told THR. "I want to bring it back to them and show them maybe one day we can all do it."

Jerome portrayed Korey Wise, one of the five Harlem teens of color who were wrongfully convicted of the rape of a white female jogger in the 1989 Central Park case, in the Netflix miniseries. Wise penned the short profile of Jerome that ran in the Time 100 Next issue, which the 22-year-old actor admitted was "everything" for him.   

The night opened and closed with performances from two of the honorees: Maggie Rogers and Camila Cabello. Time staff writers interviewed Awkwafina and Carlos Alvarado Quesada, the president of Costa Rica who's working to tackle the climate crisis. O'Connell, Raisman, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, Glossier founder Emily Weiss and author Jason Reynolds were a part of the night's "moments of inspiration" — each sharing a bit about themselves, what they do and how they want to continue to be trailblazers for the following group of rising stars. 

"I want to help inspire the next generation," Awkwafina said in her interview with Time national correspondent Charlotte Alter. Many other honorees echoed that same sentiment over the course of the event.  

"It doesn't matter if we're next," Reynolds said, "if we're not looking out for the next, next."